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Force launches gun surrender campaign

Dorset Police launches a gun surrender campaign on Monday 3 November 2014 to encourage anyone holding an illegally-held firearms weapon to dispose of it safely.

The two-week campaign is aimed at local people in the community who may wish to hand in unwanted firearms and help take guns out of circulation permanently.

It is also an opportunity for licence holders to consider surrendering weapons they may no longer have use for.

Anyone wishing to surrender a firearm in Dorset can do so by visiting the following police stations between 8am on Monday 3 November 2014 and 11pm on Sunday 16 November 2014:

  • Bournemouth –  8am to 6pm, 7 days per week
  • Weymouth – 8am to 4pm Monday-Friday, 9am to 1pm/2pm to 4.30pm Saturday
  • Sherborne – 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday
  • Poole – 10am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday
  • Wareham – 10am to 1pm/2pm to 3.30pm Tuesday to Friday
  • Ferndown – 10am to 1pm/ 2pm to 3.30pm Wednesday and Thursday

Individuals taking part in the campaign will receive an amnesty for possession of the firearm at the point of surrender/handover to a lawful authority. The surrender does not provide immunity from prosecution if the weapon is found to have been used unlawfully.

A proportion of the firearms handed in will be destroyed but some may be retained by armourers if they are of significant interest or unusual. 

A small number of firearms handed in during the gun surrender will be submitted to The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) for examination. Any guns that are proved to be linked to a crime will be kept as evidence and retained for any future court case proceedings.

A previous firearms amnesty staged in Dorset in 2003 saw more than 300 firearms handed over to police. This included starting guns, BB guns, air weapons, shotguns, pistols and rifles. A quantity of ammunition was also surrendered. The vast majority of these were not being used for criminal use.

Operational Support Superintendent Nicky Searle, from Dorset Police, said: “We acknowledge that the vast majority of firearms owned in Dorset are legally held and responsibly used.

“However, from time to time members of the public acquire firearms either as a result of inheriting them or, in some cases, as a result of changes to legislation when legally held weapons become illegally held weapons.

“In order to ensure that firearms do not end up in wider circulation and potentially become available for unlawful or criminal use, Dorset Police is participating in a national firearms surrender campaign.

“We want to stop guns falling into the wrong hands. Every gun given up is one less that poses a threat or that criminals can potentially get hold of.

“The campaign will allow people to surrender firearms across Dorset during these dates.

“I would like to remind residents that Dorset is a very safe place to live with very low levels of gun-related crime. Levels of illegally held firearms are low but this is a real opportunity for members of the public to relinquish any weapons that may be outside the law.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Iain O' Brien, Head NABIS, said: “Gun surrenders provide an important opportunity for people to hand firearms over to police and prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public.

“We are pleased that Dorset Police are running this operation and we hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to surrender their guns.”  

Issued: 31 October 2014